Two-time defending champion John Isner and last year’s runner-up Lleyton Hewitt booked a semi-final showdown at the ATP Hall of Fame Tennis Championships on Friday.
Isner defeated Croatian Ivo Karlovic in a match in which the two towering players combined for 37 aces.
America’s Isner fired 23 of those en route to a 7-6, (7/3), 7-6 (7/3) victory on the grass courts at the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
The 1 hour, 37 minute match, played in humid conditions with peeks of sunshine, had few extended points.
“I said the other day that this match would come down to a few points here and there, and those few points were in the tiebreak,” Isner said of a contest in which neither player dropped serve.
“I felt like I got a lot of good returns back and he came up with some good volleys. I made some good shots when I needed to,” Isner said.
Karlovic was playing in his first ATP tournament since being sidelined with spinal meningitis from late April to early May.
Isner next faces Hewitt, the Aussie veteran out to avenge his defeat in last year’s final.
Hewitt, the fourth seed, defeated Czech qualifier Jan Hernych 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 6-2 in exactly two hours.
Hewitt has won three of four career encounters with Isner, including an upset at the Indian Wells hardcourt Masters in March.
In yesterday’s other semi-final, 35-year-old American Michael Russell was to face 2007 Newport runner-up Nicolas Mahut of France.
AP, STUTTGART, Germany
Fabio Fognini of Italy beat top-seeded Tommy Haas of Germany 6-4, 6-2 on Friday to reach the semi-finals of the Mercedes Cup.
Second-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany avoided a similar upset by beating Gael Monfils of France 6-4, 6-4 to advance.
Haas saved four match points before sending a backhand wide to send Fognini into his third semi-final of the year. He lost the previous two, in Acapulco and Monte Carlo.
“It’s my second semi-final in Stuttgart, maybe I can go all the way,” Fognini said. “I just played my tennis and it worked for me.”
The Italian will next play Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain, who advanced when German opponent Michael Berrer retired with a left elbow injury. Agut was leading 6-2, 0-1 when Berrer decided he could not continue.
Haas, at 35 the oldest player in the top 100, said Fognini played better on the key points.
“I had five break points in the second set and if you don’t use them you can’t win,” Haas said.
Victor Hanescu of Romania also reached the semi-finals by upsetting fourth-seeded Benoit Paire of France 7-5, 6-2.
It’s the first time Hanescu has made it into the last four of a tournament since Nice in 2011. He now has a 4-0 record against Paire, all on clay.
Hanescu next faces Kohlschreiber, who was up two breaks of serve in each set before closing them out. Monfils had seven double-faults.
AP, BASTAD, Sweden
Top seeds Tomas Berdych and Nicolas Almagro were knocked out in the Swedish Open quarter-finals on Friday.
Unseeded Thiemo De Bakker of the Netherlands beat top-seeded Berdych 7-5, 7-5, while second-seeded Almagro was defeated by Spanish compatriot Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 4-6, 7-5.
Berdych and Almagro were playing their second matches of the clay-court tournament after receiving first-round byes.
In the third quarter-final upset, fifth-seeded Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria rolled over third-seeded Juan Monaco of Argentina 6-3, 6-2.